By Nicole Hennessy
In the world around her, Cameron Meakin senses nuances particular to artists – “every electric pulse, every subtle glance, the metamorphosis of the world as we know it in each waking moment.”
“But,” she says, “I’ve long ago stopped trying to define exactly what it is I’m doing justice to.”
In a spare bedroom, which serves as her studio, sit a few reworked and unfinished paintings. And throughout her mother’s house, they hang on walls.
Standing in front of a large piece — leafless trees darkening as they reach up toward the sky — she wonders what she should add in a large blank space near the center of the canvas.
The person in the photo the piece is based on? Nothing?
Either way, she’ll have to complete it within the next few hours, as her first solo show, at BAYArts, is a week away.
Having just returned from school, Meakin sits on the couch eating a pesto and tomato sandwich, her bright red lipstick brighter against her smooth, ivory skin. A giant insect encased in resin hangs from her neck.
On the coffee table, her cat Tug walks in circles, looking for attention.
Meakin started painting “seriously” in middle school. Now 17 years old, she’s enjoying the freedom of not having to define a style or incorporate her work into moneymaking. Again referencing her connection to the world, she says art was never a novelty or something she wanted to do – it was an attempt to tap into the energy she so strongly realizes connects everything in the universe.
“So many people go through their lives trying to find that connection, or not even knowing that type of thing exists,” she says. “Everything is energy — a silent life humming behind everything.”
Contagiously enthusiastic about each topic she ends up discussing, one of her favorites is that of music.
In the background, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight Marauders” plays, Q-Tip’s smooth lyrics mixing with jazzlike instrumentals.
Another favorite topic, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, comes up often. This is the special- effects company that produced movies like “Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar.”
The prospect of being able to make up fictional worlds, environments and creatures – all influenced by what she perceives in her surroundings – excites Meakin.
“People don’t ever look at fantasy art as a fine art form,” she says
When “Midnight Marauders” ends, she plays an unknown Chicago-based group a friend turned her on to called Typical Cats, whose style is slightly similar to Tribe’s, then goes back to talking about her art.
Of course, she works with traditional media like oil and graphite, but she’s eager to get more involved in digital painting.
Likening her mind to a building, she says traditional methods have her riding up and down the elevator, unable to unify the floors; while a mixture of traditional and digital styles allows her to work in ways that wouldn’t be possible without a computer.
Finished with her sandwich, Meakin continues to move from topic to topic: the profundity of street art and the fact that Banksy is a household name; the fact that people’s lives and ideals can be shaped by a work of art; the way humans privilege beauty; and the way people interpret art, relating to pieces according to the choices they’ve made and the way they live their lives.
“I don’t ever want to be famous. I have goals, but I don’t ever need to be anyone that’s well-known,” says Meakin. “I just want, some day, some little kid who’s a dreamer just as much as I am to look at my pieces and feel the way that I did when I first looked at some of the paintings that I really liked.”
Getting back to work on paintings she hopes will dry in time for the show, she’s going to have a late night. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Meakin continuously pushes herself to improve as an artist.
“What really influences me,” she wrote in her artist’s statement, “is the presence of everything evolving everywhere, at every moment.”
“Distortions” by Cameron Meakin explores ideas about creation, death and interactions in both the real and imaginative world. An opening reception at BAYArts will take place Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibition will run through June 30.